SymbioticA campaign goes global

AS the campaign to ‘save SymbioticA’ art research lab at the University of WA goes global, the uni maintains no decision has been made and it wants “genuine consultation” over its future.

The cutting edge biological art research centre has been part of UWA’s Nedland campus since 2000, but has been flagged for possible closure due to the uni’s financial strains (“UWA to axe art hub,” Voice, October 22 2022). This follows deep staff cuts to social science departments in 2021. 

A statement from UWA says: “The university is proud of its strong links to arts and culture in the WA community and continues to be committed to offering a vibrant collection of programs, displays and performances spanning music, theatre, museums, galleries and publishing.

In mid-October “the University commenced consultation with the School of Human Sciences regarding the proposed cessation of SymbioticA, which is an artistic laboratory that provides artists and designers with access to science and engineering laboratories.  

“The university acknowledges the commitment respective employees have brought to SymbioticA in establishing an international reputation over the years.  

“Like many universities, UWA is faced with the need to manage its finances in order to secure long term sustainability and strategic alignment.” 

“At this stage it is important to note that this is a proposal for change and no decision has been made on the future of SymbioticA, as we undergo genuine consultation with colleagues at this time.”

The online “Save SymbioticA” petition shared by former artist-in-residence Kira O‘Reilly has reached 12,300 signatures. 

Support for the centre has flooded in from arts organisations around the world, including the Helsinki-based international Bioart Society, the physics-art organisation Arts at CERN in Geneva, and the director of the Biotipia Musuem in Munich Michael John Gorman. SymbioticA’s fight to stay open has now been covered in international press from ArtAsiaPacific to Cosmos Magazine.

The university originally gave the centre 10 working days to respond by October 25 but extended that to November 1, and UWA brass will now mull over the options. 


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